In his defense, the priest stated that he intended to assist a buddy in raising finances for cancer treatment as well as support schools and temples in India.
By the World Desk of India Today: According to media sources, an Indian chief priest of a major Hindu temple in Singapore was sentenced to six years in prison on Tuesday for routinely stealing over $2 million Singapore Dollars ($1.5 million) in jewelry from the temple.
Kandasamy Senapathi served as a priest at Sri Mariamman Temple in the downtown Chinatown quarter from December 2013 till March 30, 2020, when he resigned.
According to Channel NewsAsia, he was found guilty of criminal breach of trust by dishonest misappropriation and two charges of remitting criminal proceedings out of the nation, with six other accusations also reviewed during the verdict.
Senapathi, an Indian national, was apprehended during the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted the normal auditing schedule and exposed the missing jewelry.
Senapathi received keys and combination numbers for the safe in the temple's sacred sanctum in 2014, which held 255 pieces of goldjewelry owned by the temple and valued at approximately SGD 1.1 million.
Senapathi began pawning jewelry in 2016, bringing it to pawn shops and afterward redeeming it with moneyhe earned from pawning additional temple jewelry.
According to the investigation, Senapathi pawned 66 items of gold jewelry from the temple on 172 times in 2016.
Between 2016 and 2020, he continued this procedure, redeeming all the jewelry and returning it to the temple before the audit. When the audit was through, he would pawn the jewelry again to repay the loan.
Between 2016 and 2020, Senapathi received SGD 2,328,760 from pawn shops, of which he sent around SGD 141,000 to India and put the remainder into his bank account.
The audit was postponed in March 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak in Singapore, due to "circuit breaker" restrictions prohibiting non-essential operations in Singapore.
Later, during the June 2020 audit, Senapathi mislead members of the temple finance team by claiming he had lost the key to the safe while visiting family in India.
However, when the staff member pressed on the audit, Senapathi eventually admitted to taking the jewelry for pawning.
According to the prosecution, all of the jewelry was later returned to the temple, and the temple suffered no loss.
A member of the temple committee filed a police report against the temple priest.
Senapathi resigned following the event, according to the prosecutor. The prosecutor also sought a seven-year prison sentence because of the high pawn value of the jewelry involved.
Senapathi, in his defense, stated that he wished to help a buddy gather funds for cancer research as well as benefit schools and temples in India.
While delivering the verdict, the judge stated that he could not overlook the fact that the case involved approximately SGD 2 million, a considerable sum that was higher than any previous similar cases.
Following the hearing, the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) issued a statement saying it had commissioned a gold audit at its four temples, Sri Mariamman, Sri Srinivasa Perumal, Sri Sivan, and Sri Vairavimada Kaliamman.
The audit verified that all jewelry was properly accounted for. An expert goldsmith also confirmed the authenticity of the jewelry Senapathi had returned.
"HEB has further tightened its governance and internal controls to ensure its charitable assets remain protected," the board said, according to the report.